WIND

Getting the good news out there

ADAM BARBER

November 8, 2012

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When big news dominates the headlines, it’s easy for the smaller, but perhaps equally significant, announcements to be buried under the deluge.

With Barack Obama and Mitt Romney slugging it out for the keys to the White House, and the subsequent analysis of Obama’s next four years, some interesting stories struggled to get the airtime that perhaps they deserved.

The thing is, for editors, it’s very easy to take the theme of the day and ask what it means for the particular industry they follow. And arguably in the case of energy, that’s quite correct.

As an aside, wind in the US isn’t necessarily any more ‘safe’ than it was prior to the election. The production tax credit may survive another year, if President Obama can steer the legislation through congress, but with most economists predicting that the US will fall off a ‘fiscal cliff’ in 2013, nothing can be guaranteed.

But here’s the thing. Whilst all this was going on, this particular area of the international energy markets wasn’t standing still.

ABB, the Swiss-Swedish electrical engineering firm, quietly announced that it had developed the world’s first circuit breaker for high voltage direct current (HVDC) transmissions.

According to ABB, the development removes a 100 year old barrier to the development of DC transmission grids. Which, as the firm was quick to point out, makes the concept of a renewable energy supergrid a little more tangible.

In many respects, the industry has to start with the big conceptual ideals, but if what ABB is claiming can be commercially deployed, then it means that renewables are closer to claiming a result for European energy security than they have struggled with so far.

Returning to the theme, however, perhaps it’s another instance of the industry letting good news get buried. Timing is everything and the ability to entertain really matters. A point that President Obama understands better than most.

Using ABB as a case in point, isn’t it time we started to communicate a little smarter and, in doing so, really celebrate the meaning of these incremental milestones and successes? Glitter and helium balloons aren’t always necessary, but a few well-spoken words aimed at an expectant audience can often help.

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